Darfur Consortium urges that due process be accorded detained Darfur negotiator

(NEW YORK, September 29, 2006) – In a statement issued in Kampala today, the Darfur Consortium expressed concern for the safety and personal security of Abulgasim Ahmed Abulgasim, a Darfurian expatriate who has been residing in Saudi Arabia for about 20 years. He was deported from Saudi Arabia late on Thursday night and is now reportedly in the custody of the Sudanese authorities.

Mr. Abulgasim, a political opponent of the Sudanese government, was a member of the negotiating team for the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), during the Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks in Abuja. He originates from Kutum area in North Darfur. It is understood that Mr. Abulgasim was arrested further to his participation in a public panel organised by the Sudanese Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, earlier this week on the implications of UN Security Council Resolution 1706 (2006). During this panel he is said to have expressed support for the decision of the UN body and the deployment of international troops to protect civilian populations in Darfur.

Human rights organisations have expressed grave concern that Mr. Abulgasim has been forcibly returned to Sudan and is now at risk of being subjected to ill-treatment, torture and incommunicado detention. 

The Darfur Consortium urges that the full protection of international human rights law, as provided for in Sudan’s law and Interim Constitution, be accorded to Mr. Abulgasim, in particular, the right to be advised of the reasons for his deportation and detention, and the nature of any charges against him. He must also be permitted to challenge the basis for his deportation and detention, and released if so ordered. In the immediate term Mr. Abulgasim must be permitted access to a lawyer of his choice, and to receive any medical attention which he requires.

The Darfur Consortium represents over forty Africa-based and Africa-focused civil society organisations working together to promote a just, peaceful and sustainable end to the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur.

AU takes a small step forward on Darfur, negotiations on UN assistance must continue

(NEW YORK, September 25, 2006) – In a statement issued in New York today, the Darfur Consortium welcomed the decisions of the African Union (AU) to extend the mandate of the African Union mission in Sudan (AMIS) to the end of the year and of the UN Security Council to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), now deployed in the south of the country, by two weeks.

Alioune Tine, a founding member of the Consortium and President of Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO), who was in New York to monitor progress of the deliberations, cautioned, however, that these decisions constituted only a brief reprieve and that much more remained to be done. “Darfurians will be relieved that the African forces on the ground are remaining to do what they can,” said Mr. Tine “but it is clear that in their current configuration they simply cannot effectively protect.”

“While it is encouraging to hear that the Arab League has pledged funding and that the UN will offer support, international donors must also increase their assistance. On the part of the AU, the extension of the AMIS mandate must now be accompanied by an increase in troop numbers and the adoption of a new concept of operations. AMIS must be equipped to at least attempt to fulfill its responsibilities under the Darfur Peace Agreement.”

Planning for the transformation to a UN force must also continue. “African states have already recognized that a United Nations force is the only way to effectively protect civilians in Darfur,” said Mr. Tine.

“The decision at this Friday’s Security Council meeting to agree only a short term technical mandate extension to UNMIS is an indication that the members of the Security Council are seeking to keep the transformation to a UN force high on the international agenda. African states need to reassert their role in these discussions and push strongly for the UN transition they have been seeking since March of this year.”

The Darfur Consortium represents over forty Africa-based and Africa-focused civil society organisations working together to promote a just, peaceful and sustainable end to the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur.

The African Union must not abandon Darfur

(NEW YORK, September 19, 2006)—In a statement issued in New York today, the Darfur Consortium called on the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) to take four critical steps when it meets at summit level tomorrow:

* Extend the mandate of the African Union Mission in Sudan until the year’s end and reaffirm its support for the extension of the UN mission in Sudan to Darfur;
* Unequivocally reject the Government of Sudan’s security plan to “stabilize” the situation in Darfur as a clear violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) and a sure recipe for disaster;
* Urgently re-establish the political process to restore energy to the peace process and tackle the gaps in the DPA; 
* Call for demilitarization by the warring parties and observance of the cease-fire.

Alioune Tine, one of the founding members of the Darfur Consortium, warned “in the face of escalating violence, the African Union must stay the course and not abandon the people of Darfur.”

African leaders have an obligation to insist on the right—and responsibility—of all Africans acting collectively to ensure the protection of the people of Darfur, he said, adding: “In the new Africa the veil of sovereignty must be pierced when a State is unable or unwilling to protect its citizens from massive violations of international humanitarian law.”

Members of the Darfur Consortium have been greatly alarmed by the dangerous escalation in the security situation in Darfur in recent weeks, fuelled by both the stagnated political process and increasing attacks by the warring parties on civilian areas. As rumors circulate of an imminent AU withdrawal, the desperation of Darfur’s suffering population is at crisis proportions.

“Governments across the continent are united in apprehension of an AU troop pull out from Darfur. The events and demonstrations across Africa from Dakar to Juba on the Global Day for Darfur on Sunday also showed the depth of feeling of ordinary Africans at this time” Mr. Tine said. “We all recall the horror which unfolded in the wake of the withdrawal of international forces from Rwanda in 1994. This concern, however, must now be transformed into action by African leaders.”

The African Union has already decided to transform the African Union mission in Darfur into a United Nations Mission. This decision, which has been accepted by almost all members of the international community, is the most effective way to protect civilians in Darfur and to give a chance to peace. 

Mr. Tine pointed out that the decision of the AU to seek the support of the UN in expanding the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to Darfur, had been accepted by almost all members of the international community, as the most effective way to consolidate the AU’s efforts towards a lasting peace.

“We urge Sudan to consider its responsibilities toward the people of Darfur and to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA),” stated Mr. Tine. “Sudan and the other signatory parties established a central role for the AU in implementing, and in acting as guarantor for, the DPA. If the AU assessment is that it needs UN support to deliver on its responsibilities — both to the parties and the people of Darfur — then such a delegation of functions is not only its obligation but entirely within its remit.”

The Darfur Consortium represents over forty Africa-based and Africa-focused civil society organizations working together to promote a just, peaceful and sustainable end to the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur.


World Social Forum NGOs call for action on Darfur

The following petition gathered more than 500 signatories at the World Social Forum this week in Nairobi: 

We, activists, civil society organizations, and other progressives gathered in Nairobi for the 7th World Social Forum, express our deep concern about the ongoing crisis in Darfur. Since the beginning of full blown hostilities in early 2003, the crisis has wreaked unimaginable damage. More than 400,000 civilians have died, more than 3.6 million are “war affected,” dependent on international assistance, more than 3 million have been displaced (the vast majority have remained in Sudan, while others have fled to neighbouring Chad and further abroad.

Read the full petition.

(September 17, 2006) Human Rights Organizations Condemn the On-going Deterioration of Humanitarian Situation in Darfur and Call upon the Sudanese Government to Accept the Deployment of the UN Forces

Thousands expected to participate in events across Africa marking the Global Day for Darfur

(KAMPALA, September 15, 2006) Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to participate in a host of events throughout Africa and across the globe this Sunday, September 17 in support of the beleaguered people of Darfur.

“The situation in Darfur has never been as critical,” said Dismas Nkunda, a spokesperson for the Darfur Consortium, a coalition of Africa-based and Africa-focused NGOs dedicated to finding a solution to the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan.

“As the violence and suffering escalates in Darfur, the Government of Sudan continues to resist the decision by the UN Security Council to deploy critically needed UN peacekeepers to Darfur” said Nkunda. “The overwhelmed African Union force is under tremendous pressure. While Sudan demands that the AU pull out its troops if it cannot operate without UN assistance, on the ground the African soldiers are hearing increasingly desperate pleas to stay.”

“Without the protective shield of international peacekeepers Darfurians fear a return to all out war. As the Government of Sudan moves thousands of troops into the region, senior UN officials warned last week that a catastrophe is imminent,” added Nkunda.

“This week thousands of ordinary citizens throughout Africa will call on African leaders and the African Union not to desert the people of Darfur. On Monday, the African Union will have the opportunity to respond to these voices when the Peace and Security Council meets in special session in New York.”

Background on the Global Day for Darfur

Events for the Global Day for Darfur are planned in 32 countries with more. September 17 was chosen as the date because it marks the start of the United Nations General Assembly and the first anniversary of the commitment by 150 governments at the UN World Summit in New York to a “responsibility to protect” people at risk of grave and massive violations of their human rights.

Among the events taking place in Africa are:

* Ethiopia: Addis Ababa — Panel discussion and film screening on Mesquel Square.
* Gambia: Banjul – A rally, followed by a march from Westfield to Independent Stadium.
* Ghana: Accra – Peaceful march ending at the Old Parliament House (Amnesty International Ghana)
* Kenya: Nairobi — Film screenings, a photo exhibition, an open forum, and a weekend of prayer.
* Nigeria: Abuja — “Prayers for Darfur” Rally at the National Mosque and National Ecumenical Center. Public screening of “Hotel Rwanda”; and a rally at the Sudanese Embassy in Abuja.
* Rwanda: Kigali – Rally at the Intercontinental Hotel in the centre of Kigali followed by a march to Ecole Technique Officiele – the site of the UN base during the Rwandan genocide, where many people were massacred when the UN pulled out.
* Senegal: Dakar — Concert on 9/17 with rap groups and young musicians.
* Sudan: Juba
* Tanzania: Dar-es-Salaam — Panel discussion with experts and commentator Adam Simbeye on the weekly “This Week in Perspective” followed by a march with speakers and music.
* Zambia: Lusaka – Public rally organized by Amnesty International on Sept. 18.

For more information contact Dismas Nkunda at + 255 742 219 693.
See also www.darfurconsortium.org or www.dayfordarfur.org.